The media (social and otherwise) have been discussing the events of the 16th of August 2012 quite substantially around its 3rd anniversary. Commentators and politicians have been arguing over everything from methodology to compensation. This article isn’t about that though, as if you are interested, there is enough content already.
This article is about the events which transpired over the weekend and resulted in portions of the University of Cape Town’s campus being plastered with graffiti.
On walking up to campus, I saw that the usual black graffiti on the wall next to the rugby field was now accompanied by large red lettering, reading: Remember Marikana.
I expected this and moved on. What I found at the top, just past the pedestal of the late Rhodes Statue, really angered me. The memorial commemorating those lost in both WW1 and WW2 had been vandalised. “Reme mer Marikana,” (see photo) had been stencilled onto the memorial.
The rest of campus had also been struck, with graffiti along the sides of Jammie Plaza. Upon the poles of Jammie Hall were written: “Max Price for Black Lives?”
A group calling themselves the Tokolos Stencil Collective have claimed responsibility for the vandalism – but haven’t made their intentions behind the act known. This comes as no surprise if one views their Tumblr (always the platform of the “enlightened” left). They don’t seem to have any regard for location, rather opting for spam tactics.
A lot of UCT students have cried out in anger at this invasion by external vandals. A friend of mine, typically highly apolitical, was “shaking with anger” over this event. I don’t blame him. No one can actually justify this act. There is no reasonable argument to justify connecting Marikana to UCT and then vandalising it. But as we’ve already established, Tokolos doesn’t seem to care about location or logic.
Despite this lack of logic, a lot of people are jumping on the privilege bandwagon and accusing condemnation of this event to be white privilege. Apparently, a respect for the rule of law and a dislike of desecrating war memorials is as a result of privilege. As leftist logic often is, this argument is of course flawed and made without thought.
The only justification for targeting UCT was made in another piece of graffiti, illustrating that UCT has Lonmin Shares. This is typical of protests of this nature that they cling onto economic matters without any knowledge of how they actually work.
UCT responded to this in the statement below:
I would have been a bit more aggressive but this is overall an appropriate response. I would like to add to it by asking a question of those who used this justification.
Do you think that UCT invested in Lonmin with the knowledge that protest action against them would result in the state overreacting and shooting a bunch of protesters?
If you do, then either you have deep inside knowledge of the powers within UCT or you really need to lay off whatever you’re smoking. UCT invests in a lot of companies for the express reason that they need a means of funding not only for development on campus, but also bursaries that allow poverty-stricken students to go through University (the same students who Tokolos claim to protect).
UCT has a right to invest in Lonmin and those condemning their investment are effectively asking for University development to be scaled down and students to be kicked out.
In regards to the other slogan: it is nonsensical and not even worth responding.
Legality of Graffiti
It might come as a shock to some, but graffiti is illegal and (most of the time) distasteful. Perpetrators are damaging private and public property to satisfy their narcissistic urges. It’s not freedom of speech or expression. It is vandalism.
If someone desperately wants to write on a wall, then they should get their own wall or ask permission. In the context of UCT: if they had approached the campus administration, they would almost definitely have received permission for some sort of expression that didn’t contravene the law.
There are many people who do care about the Marikana Massacre, but this event has corrupted the cause for many people.
But this event wasn’t about the cause. It’s about a group of anonymous individuals sating their vandal urges through marking their territory with gangster-like tags. Hopefully, UCT takes action against Tokolos and cleans up the damage as fast as possible. This is not a movement that we want to give any credence.